VICTORIA’S Port Rail Shuttle Network project is progressing with a new section of track connecting Port of Melbourne with Dandenong South – the site of a future intermodal terminal.

Crews have completed laying the track of the new spur line. The Victorian Department of Transport said the new connection will take thousands of trucks off arterial and suburban roads.

The new track will connect the main rail line with Dandenong South Intermodal Terminal, increasing the distance containers can travel from the port.

The Port Rail Shuttle Network aims to modernise Melbourne’s existing rail networks to connect Port of Melbourne to major freight hubs.

The Victorian government suggests the project is necessary as the state’s freight volumes are set to nearly triple by 2051.

“The Victorian freight task is growing every year, and we know that rail must and will shoulder more of the heavy lifting to keep our economy thriving,” ports and freight minister Melissa Horne said.

“That’s why we’re investing in projects like the Port Rail Shuttle Network – to enable producers and operators to transport their product quicker and cheaper to port and to market, as well as create jobs and take more trucks off our local roads.”

In addition to cutting up to 175,000 truck movements each year, the overall project is expected to alleviate congestion around Port of Melbourne and cut freight transport costs by up to 10%.

The Australian government is contributing $38 million towards this project and the Victorian government is contributing $20 million.

Catherine King, minister for infrastructure, transport and regional development, said the federal government’s $38 million investment would boost the economy and enable producers and operators to transport products more efficiently.

“The Port Rail Shuttle Network will not only enhance the strategic importance of freight and logistics operators – it will also deliver efficiencies and cost-savings for businesses,” Ms King said.

The project also involves direct rail connections from the Port of Melbourne to major freight hubs in metropolitan Melbourne in the south-east, north and west.

It is understood the new intermodal freight terminal in Dandenong South is currently in the planning phase, and is to be constructed by and operated by Salta Properties.